Duly Noted

July is Juror Appreciation Month

The Michigan Supreme Court has designated July as “Juror Appreciation Month” to acknowledge citizens who serve as jurors during the month and to encourage others to answer the call to jury service throughout the year.

The Court noted in a resolution signed by all the justices that “One of the most significant actions a court system can take is to show appreciation for the jury system and for the tens of thousands of citizens who annually give their time and talents to serve on juries.”

Some facts about jury service:

Who gets called? U.S. citizens at least 18 years old who are residents of the court district to which they are summoned. Those who have been convicted of felony crimes are not eligible for jury service.

What’s required? Jurors must “be able to communicate in the English language” and “be physically and mentally able to carry out the functions of a juror.” If you are seated on a jury, keep an open mind and hear all the evidence, closing arguments, and instructions before deliberating.

Are there exemptions? People over 70 may request an age exemption. And while people can be called for duty more than once, they cannot be called more than once every twelve months.

What does it pay? Under Michigan law, jurors receive not less than $25 per day and $12.50 per half day for the first day of service. For each day after that, jurors receive not less than $40 per day and $20 per half day. Jurors also receive mileage for trips to and from court.

What if someone doesn’t show up? He or she can be held in contempt of court, fined, even jailed.

What about work? By law, an employer cannot fire, or discipline or threaten such action, against an employee who is summoned for jury duty or chosen to serve on a jury, even for a long trial. Nor can employers force a worker to go beyond normal hours to make up for time spent on jury service.

What’s an acceptable reason to be excused? That’s up to the court, but there are a number of grounds. “Hardship” is one, and that could include lack of transportation, excessive travel, extreme financial burden, undue risk to physical property, and being over 70. “Hardship” also includes situations where your absence from your normal routine would affect another’s care or pose a risk to public health or safety. A request for a medical related exemption requires a letter from a doctor. A full-time student who believes jury service will conflict with classes must submit the class schedule.

Can those who serve on juries talk about the case afterwards? Once discharged, jurors may discuss the case with others, although they don’t have to discuss it. Attorneys and sometimes media often find it helpful to talk to the jurors afterwards.

More at http://courts.mi.gov/courts/michigansupremecourt/publicinfooffice/publicoutreach/pages/juror-appreciation-month.aspx.

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